How to Calculate the True Cost of Printing Part 1

Getting a grip on the price of printing

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Approach a small business owner with a product, and the first question is almost always about money: How much does this cost me? While careful on the cost of acquisition, many small businesses fall down managing their cost of ownership. Do you know how much you're spending to print each piece of paper in your business? The information today and tomorrow will give you the tools you need to put a price tag on printing.

Most printing studies only worry about huge companies with hundreds or thousands of printers, because that's where you can get lots of data in one place. If your small company has one or two printers, then you have little ability to change your cost structure until you buy a new printer.

Important data point: the ratio of printers to users. Big companies often find they have, amazingly, one printer for every four to five employees. Blame personal printers for that number. How many printers do you have compared to the number of employees? Make sure to count all the printers in remote and home offices.

How many of those printers are personal printers? Costs for personal printers are higher per page than for workgroup printers.

Do you have multiple printers of the same model, or is every printer different? The more consistency in printers, the more consistency in ,managing and purchasing consumables for those printers.

How many of your printers are over five years old? Unlike most electronic devices, printers have lots of moving parts, which will eventually break down. Older printers cost more for service, and may fail at a crucial time. Replacing older printers before they fail or need service may save money.

Finally, trace the “supply chain” of printer consumables. Who orders paper and ink cartridges? Actually, that should be “how many people” order paper, ink jet and laser jet cartridges, and buys service contracts on printers. Managers usually think half as many people are buying supplies that are actually buying supplies.

Get these details today, and we'll explain how to assign costs tomorrow.

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HP printers, ink and toner

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